The Gospel and Racial Tension

Tensions are high in our country over many issues today. We’ve gone from social distancing to social justice and it’s being escalated because of social media. And the battle that our culture is facing is that we are labeled as socially different but desire social equality. It has required the living church to navigate the current issue of racism in a way that is tough to come to terms with but ever so necessary.

We at The Valley Church condemn every form of racism. We know that our creator has made us all from one race, for everyone comes from Adam and Eve. (Gen 2:20-25). We also know that Jesus commanded the Jewish culture that He engaged with that the Kingdom of God would be filled with both Jew and Gentile. In fact, He proclaims to them in Luke 13:29-30

And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.  And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (ESV)

Jesus’ instruction was clear, those that the Jews thought would be last (the Gentiles) would be first in the Kingdom. And those that the Jews thought would be first (themselves) would be last. This ultimately would mean one simple truth: In the Kingdom of God, ALL ARE EQUAL.
Our problem is that the Christian worldview isn’t shared by a lost world. Our different ethnicities and cultures are a thing to be celebrated! But because of sin, instead of our differences being celebrated, they can be used as barriers that cause hate between human beings. This has been multiplied in our American context, a history filled with injustice toward black people in our country. But the reality is, every culture in every generation have shared similar racial prejudices that have fractured societies.

To the Christian, this isn’t shocking. The depravity of man exposes the wicked soul. This results in reprehensible actions, such as a police officer kneeling on a man's neck as he cries out "I cant breath", or "everything hurts.” Sinful men and women will do sinful things. But it’s not enough that we offer that justification for hatred and racism.

The question that must be answered is this. What do Christians do next?
  • We Listen
Opinions circulate our culture over how to deal with the issue of racism. We must be a people that does not get caught up in the crowd’s rage but instead we must be as Jesus says “wise as serpents and gentle as doves”. Culture continues to say things like “silence is compliance.” But God’s Word says in James 1:19:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

We listen. It allows for our perspective to shift. It allows for our bias to be removed. It allows the lens of our worldview to be adjusted by truth and the perspectives of others. We can’t know the solutions until we know the REAL problem.

  • We offer a response, not a reaction
It’s in our nature to react to things. Most often our reactions are based on emotion. A marriage counselor once communicated this piece of wisdom: “Don’t deal with conflict during conflict times.” The concept is simple: emotions will dictate your reaction, but a gentle time that is prayed-over and thought-out will dictate your response.

Our objective is to call out the sin that has cursed our land and point out the need for repentance and restoration through the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. The fractures that sin creates can only be healed by the working of the Holy Spirit through humility and sacrificial unity.

  • We replace the void of hatred with the Gospel 
We teach often in our church that Jesus never went on a healing tour, or a feeding tour, or a social justice tour, or an exorcism tour. He always went on PREACHING TOURS. The Gospel truth of reconciliation was always His purpose.

Jesus said in Luke 4:43: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
 
But even with that truth we see that Jesus DID heal people, and Jesus DID feed people, and Jesus DID address social justice issues, and Jesus DID cast out demons. Those were bi-products of His graciousness.

When we deal with issues such as helping the poor, investing in hospitals, marching with brothers and sisters to condemn racial oppression, and all of the social justice issues we face, we must understand the overall purpose: TO HONOR THE SAVIOR WHO RESCUED THE OPPRESSED by sharing that Gospel of reconciliation.

The Gospel restores! The Gospel is what gives unbelieving, un-submitting men and women a salvific faith that changes their heart from seeking self-fulfillment to seeking self-denial. The Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

  • Put your faith to action
There are many practical things you can do to put your faith in action.

- Prayer
Let this not only be cliché and obvious but essential and desired. Pray for our land, pray for the hearts of our people, pray for your own soul’s perspective. Pray for opened doors and the receptivity of our world. God says in Jeremiah 33:3 “call unto me and I will answer you…”
- Vote
Although we know that man is flawed and the “right” people in office are just as depraved as the rest of us, we should attach our voice to the issues. If racism is systemic, change the system!

- Be Available
It’s amazing the receptivity we see in our secular culture. Prison ministries, public schools, community centers, and so many other institutions are generally interested in positive influences hoping to make a change in our society.

- Speak Out
Now that we’ve told you to be quick to hear and slow to speak, it’s now okay to speak up. And not only that, we demand that you do! The prophets, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and Jesus Himself never missed opportunities to defend the innocent, speak up for the oppressed, and create change in their culture. And that is no different today. We celebrate our uniqueness. When speaking on the future Kingdom, John wrote in Revelation 7:9- After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”
 
The differences of men and women were realized and celebrated. We don’t use one-liners such as “I don’t see color.” No, we DO SEE COLOR. Different tribes, different tongues, different PEOPLES make up the great collection of humanity, all uniquely and equally created in the image of a creative God!
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Chuck Smith

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